An update on country communities: Uniondale

Uniondale shul, now a Lions clubhouse

By Gwynne Robins

The Jewish community was well established in Uniondale during the late 1800s.

Israel Shear, who had emigrated from Russia with his large family, was a storekeeper, bottle store owner and farmer. He was the leader of the local community and was mainly responsible for founding the congregation and building the synagogue.

Although fairly plain on the outside, the interior is exquisite, with cast iron broekie lace pillars and a dramatic painted ceiling.

As Uniondale’s fortunes declined and the Jewish people left, the building was given to the town on condition that it not be used as a place of worship. The property was donated by Louis Linde. Today it is the property of the local branch of Lions Club International, who have restored the interior as a project among members.

The building is an asset to the social life of the community, used for exercise classes and functions.

Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies website:, Instagram, and Facebook page.

Published in the print edition of the December 2020/January 2021 issue.
Download the Dec/Jan issue PDF here.

Visit our Portal to the Jewish Community to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites.

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  1. Thank you for this brief article about the Uniondale Synagogue. The information provided is not however correct. Israel Shear was my great-grandfather’s brother. In fact, it was my great-grandfather – Rabbi Zelig Pinchas Shear who was the Rabbi and the spiritual leader of that beautiful shul. Should you wish to find out more concerning my family tree and my great-grandfather, please contact me directly.


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